Good for Business

News flash: A few corporations actually have a conscience, according to the Council on Economic Priorities. Colgate-Palmolive, Polaroid, Merck, New England Electric System, Timberland, and Coca Cola just won CEP's America's Corporate Conscience Awards for 1995. The recognition is designed to enhance incentives for superior corporate social and environmental performance. Here's who turned CEP's head: The outdoor footwear and clothing maker Timberland has taken social commitment beyond its mission statement into the community. Last year they invested $5 million in City Year, a national urban youth corps program. In a campaign called "Give Racism the Boot," volunteers aged 17 to 23 teach children to read, clean up trash-strewn lots, and interact with diverse groups in their year of community service. Colgate contributed start-up funds and over 70 mentor/tutors to help transform one junior high school in Harlem, NY. As a result, attendance has soared from 42 to 92 percent, and reading and math levels have dramatically improved. Polaroid has pioneered progressive AIDS/HIV education and prevention plans for its employees since 1987. It provides resources, support groups and training for its workers in Mexico, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S., one of the few 10 percent of companies which offer comprehensive AIDS programs. The New England Electric System (NES), a holding company for eight electric utilities in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, is investing in alternative energy. Projects include constructing a pilot plant to convert waste from farms, plants and residential areas into gas by 1996, and the East Coast's largest wind-power plant in Maine. Merck, the world's largest pharmaceutical company, is providing support to a Costa Rican institution, the National Institute of Biodiversity,(INBio). Their pioneering royalty agreement with INBio was established to help preserve the rainforest and to pay INBio for any specimens used as the basis for new medicines. Coca-Cola has a long and extensive record of support for Hispanic, African-American and women's organizations, and recruitment/advancement programs at all levels. It also provides diversity awareness training to all employees, and summer internships for minority youth. For more information about the awards, or the selection process, contact Rosalyn Will at 212-420-1133.

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